Wonders of the internet

The internet really blows me away sometimes. I know I’m stating the obvious and sounding pretty cliche so let me say this instead: I can’t imagine what this injury would be like 10, 20 or 30 years ago, specifically in regards to the difference in social connectivity then vs. now.

Last week a friend posted my Al Jazeera video at Ekso Bionics on Upworthy.com, a site that I didn’t know much about previously. Within minutes, I had emails, blog comments, Facebook messages, and all kinds of communication from people all over the world who had seen the story and felt inspired enough to read my blog and to contact me personally. I was blown away. I have had a couple of big social media days since I started writing this blog but this broke all the records. The communication kept flooding in over the weekend and I’m still barely catching up to all of it.

As a result of just this recent wave of traffic, I’ve made new contacts, connected with people who have the same injury as me to swap stories, received extraordinarily generous offers of help and support from complete strangers, and read sincere, kind messages of love, positivity and encouragement from people I don’t know. I make it a frequent point on this blog to share my gratitude and always recognize those things I do have despite all of the adversity that life has thrown me with this injury, so I have to take a moment to express my thanks to everyone who has read my blog whether you’ve been following me from the beginning or just recently joining me on my path to recovery.

We live in a time where I’m fortunate enough to click a button and upload a video that instantly goes global and motivates people to send me their words of support. There are websites out there specifically to help people raise money or organize events to give themselves a better shot at improving their condition. By connecting with some of the readers and visitors of my blog, I’ve learned about cutting edge treatments for spinal cord injury (SCI), brand new devices and equipment, and read about prolific research that is paving the way for a better understanding of how the spinal cord heals. I can’t imagine how different it would be if I didn’t have access to such forms of communication and (I have to admit) I wonder if or how much my recovery would have suffered if I didn’t live in an age where so much information is so incredibly accessible.

Last year, when I was still in the hospital, I had my first conversation with Grant Korgan (a fellow survivor of SCI and an incredible and inspiring person) and the first thing he said to me as I wheezed and forced out a barely audible sentence was, “bro, there is SO much love out there, just waiting for you.” I’m feeling grateful to be able to realize this every day, and in novel and interesting ways. Thank you all for giving me so much continued inspiration and for keeping me on my path to recovery.

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41 thoughts on “Wonders of the internet

  1. You (and others with the same, or similar injuries) deserve all the love and support in the world.

    It can’t be easy having your whole life and expectations for the future turned upside down and thrown out the window in a few devastating minutes.

    Life is not easy, but how you face life’s challenges is key to getting the most out of your new life.

    Seeing the glass half full (instead of half empty) is purely a state of mind. Approaching each day with an appreciation of the simple pleasures in life makes chronic illness and/or injury far more meaningful.

    1. As always, your comments resonate with me and I’m thankful for your wisdom and positive outlook. I completely agree with you about facing life’s challenges and do my best to approach them positively. Thank you -AB

  2. It really is truly remarkable Arash! I am so thrilled to know that so many reached out and offered you support in such a variety of ways — yes – “so much love” ~ I agree. Let it feed your soul and fill your heart as you continue to heal and thrive each day! I so enjoyed reading this post ! Love to you ~
    Robyn x

  3. You are doing great, Arash, and it is just fantastic that you’ve managed to connect with so many people. I saw a video recently that I would have shared with you only I have no idea how to pinch it off Facebook to show you. It’s about a guy who was a war veteran (paratrooper) and injured himself so badly that he could barely walk, weighed waaaaay too much and got about in a wheelchair with no quality of life. His determination rivalled yours. In his video, we saw him at the start, then we saw him try, try, try, try, fall down, try some more, fall down… he fell down more times than he could count, but he also was losing weight by doing these exercises. Finally, and i’m not sure what time span this was over, the very last frame showed him looking great and walking… and then…. SPRINTING! It was just amazing. I wish you all the best, as always, with your recovery, and I know you will get there eventually.

    1. That’s an incredible story! I would love to find out more about it and if you could share it with me, I would appreciate it. You can find me on FB (just search my full name, Arash Bayatmakou). What an inspiration -AB

      1. I’ve sent you a friend request. πŸ™‚ I re-watched it and I DARE you not to smile at the end when he runs!

  4. So glad to receive the new blog. You are an inspiration to all of us and to know about your progress is just fantastic. Keep up the work, buddy, and know that we support you with love and prayers! From Barra de Navidad, Mexico. Jack

  5. Thank YOU, Arash, for inspiring us! And yes, it is simply amazing how the internet can be used in positive and constructive ways…reaching people from all over the world and sharing/exploring new and exciting concepts, ideas and motivation.

    1. Yeah I sometimes go back and forth with how I feel about all this technology but times like these remind me of how lucky I am to have these opportunities. Wishing you the best bro -AB

  6. You deserve all the recognition, and you inspire all of us! I noted this past weekend an unusual number of referrals that came from your site, and i was a bit baffled. NOW it makes sense!

    i’m so glad to witness your positive effect on so many others.

  7. i know my son, Xander, sometimes gets a little sick of being ‘an inspiration’…i know he’d prefer to just have his old life back…but that is not to be…at least not yet…so inspire away, i say…have a feeling you are in the same boat…

  8. Dear Arash, I am one of the people who saw the Upworthy Ekso Bionics video and was inspired to then look at your blog and then share it on Facebook (and now follow it). I am really inspired by you. No one seems to have said it but I will – you are a fantastic looking guy and it was so great to see your face when on your feet and I am really rooting for you. You are also a wonderful writer – your paragraph on love – I am glad I have been inspired today to re-find it in your “one year ago” blog on 8th July is one of the most beautiful things I have read anywhere. Keep going and blossom some more. Thank you very much for your inspiration. Melanie x

    1. You are so kind. Thank you for the encouraging words of support. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed reading thus far and I hope you keep reading in the future. Best to you Melanie -AB

  9. Dear Arash, I just read your blog. Amen and Amen! It is a small world after all! I love your “attitude of gratitude”. Have an amazing day! warm regards, Judy

  10. Arash, you inspire me with every post…love reading your blog and following your journey. You have an amazing ability to put feelings into words

  11. For so many who have come before you – you are a pioneer in this newest field of bionics! So happy for you – a dear friend of ours has been wheelchair bound since 1966 and has never felt “disabled” – he has been self sufficient and living on his own after completing what rehab he could get at the time. Have to tell you – that as an avid hunter (on his own 50 acres + property) he is able to get into a blind, in a tree and hoist his wheelchair up behind him. Imagine what he could have done with the marvels of today. Good for you Arash and keep on going – you are a star!

  12. Arash, try and remember that you may be severely challenged with your paralysis, but you are never alone! There are many of us out there who are paralyzed in their lives on the inside in different ways not physical, it just doesn’t show! Life is one big challenge and it is never an easy ride. Live moment to moment for that is all that counts really! Happiness is fleeting, and there’s a whole lot of struggle in between those little windows of joy! All we can do is make the best of what we are given and try and remember these trials are only part of the human experience. I honor and am in awe of your strength, just as in others like Stephen Hawking! Keep on inspiring others to find their new niche when their life is turned upside down! Good luck finding all the hidden joys in your future!

    1. Thank you for your insights. You’re right that paralysis on the inside is a challenging thing too. It’s definitely important to recognize those windows of joy. I couldn’t agree more -AB

  13. Hi Arash!
    I’m one of those folks who found you, quite by accident, via Upworthy….I was actually searching for technology related items and came across your amazing video. This is of great interest to me, as I follow a very determined and inspiring young man named Jack Jablonski. Jack is a hockey player who suffered an SCI….I think he would be very interested to learn about the Esko Bionics, if he hasn’t already heard about it. Since you looked like a pretty cool dude, I thought I would check out your blog. I still have much reading to do but I can tell from your writings (and photos) thus far that you are many things…..intelligent, motivated, courageous, athletic, adventurous, driven and not least of all, very easy on the eyes!! (yes, I am a 47 year old mother of two but I am not dead!! LOL) I’m sure that by reading on further, I’ll come up with a whole other slew of adjectives to add to the list πŸ˜‰ I want you to know, that while it hurts my heart to read of your accident, I do not in any way feel ‘sorry’ for you…..you are so much more than just your injury. You are blessed in so many abundant ways. I lost a dear childhood friend in 2000, on New Year’s Eve, to an accidental fall from a three story building and I WISH, oh how I WISH, he could be in your position right now, just to have him here on this side of the veil with us. So you just keep on keeping on, working hard and living large and knowing that this is just temporary and the whole world is out there for you to make a difference to others and to explore!
    With wishes, energy and mojo for the very best for you,
    Tracey πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Tracey. Thanks for your note and I’m so glad you found my blog and that you’ve found it useful for your friend. Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend but I hope that I can be of assistance to Jack. Tell him to reach out to me anytime. Thank you for your kind words and support and I hope you keep reading as I chronicle my journey. Best wishes to you -AB

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